Microsoft has never released Publisher on Mac but here we’ve looked at the best paid and free alternatives to MS Publisher on a Mac to do desktop publishing on macOS.
MS Publisher is different from Microsoft Word because it focuses more on Desktop Publishing (DTP) than word processing software.
The apps featured here are suitable for creating all types of print and online publications including newsletters, brochures, booklets, magazines, newspapers, leaflets, eBooks, flyers, banners, invitations and more.
Some of the best publishing software on Mac like our number 1 choice Adobe InDesign are in fact far better than MS Publisher and produce incredible results both in print and online.
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Here then are the best alternatives to Microsoft Publisher for Mac of 2020 in order of ranking.
Adobe InDesign is easily the leading industry DTP software for Mac and blows Microsoft Publisher out of the water when it comes to desktop publishing.
InDesign is used professionally for everything from creating stationary, flyers, annual reports, calendars and posters to professional magazines, online interactive digital publications and e-books.
If you want to publish a book on your Mac, InDesign is definitely the best book publishing software for Mac and it’s as simple as clicking File > New > Book to instantly switch to a range of professional looking book publishing templates.
InDesign has become far more accessible to the average user too with an easier to use layout that’s closer to the Microsoft Office style ribbon interface and toolbox.
Adobe has simplified InDesign a lot to appeal to a wider market and there are also plenty of easy to follow InDesign video tutorials to help you get to grips with the software.
You can import high quality vector graphics from other Adobe apps such as Illustrator and Photoshop in a few clicks.
Adobe Stock is a huge repository of millions of royalty free stock images and videos including those in 4K quality.
This means you can find and import high quality professional images and multimedia for virtually any subject which saves both time and money in sourcing images for your publication.
On its own InDesign costs $20.99 per month.
However, if you’re entitled to an educational discount, Adobe InDesign is an absolute bargain right now as Adobe is currently offering 60% off the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite
This means you get all 20 Creative Cloud apps for just $19.99.
For everyone else, Creative Cloud normally costs $52.99 per month.
That’s not just InDesign you get -- Creative Cloud includes 20 industry leading apps including Photoshop, Lightroom, Spark, Adobe XD, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and Acrobat Pro.
So you’re basically getting 20 Adobe applications for the price of one copy of InDesign
You can download a free trial of InDesign to see it for yourself.
You can check our full review of Adobe InDesign for a more in-depth look.
Pricing: 60% off with Creative Cloud Educational Discount or $20.99/m
Swift Publisher is an impressive, user-friendly and slick desktop publishing application for Mac that’s become increasingly popular as a cheaper desktop alternative to MS Publisher.
If monthly or annual subscriptions are not for you, Swift Publisher provides an excellent value for money desktop publishing software for Mac for just $19.99 (and is currently offering 20% off).
There’s also 30% off for students, academics and non-profits.
The good thing about all Belight products like Swift Publisher is that they don’t require lots of learning like professional DTP software for Mac but produce professional looking results.
Swift Publisher is ideal for producing booklets, bulletins, flyers or brochures and makes rearranging elements such as images, tables and text very easy.
Swift Publisher has 500 professional looking templates which you can customize anyway you want and help you create layouts quickly.
Swift Publisher is also integrated with Apple Photos and Aperture and you can export your work to PDF, JPEG, EPS, TIFF and iCloud. There are also more advanced touches like the possibility to define bleeds and configure correct DPI for print publishing.
There are also lots of easy to follow video tutorials to get you started with Swift Publisher although we found you still sometimes have to Google certain functions to work out how to do them.
We noticed stability can be an occasional issue when working with lots of images but for pamphlets, flyers and straightforward publications, it works very well.
If you want an easy to use DTP app that’s similar to Publisher but without a steep learning curve or monthly subscription fees, then Swift Publisher is an excellent, value for money tool.
You can find full details on Swift Publisher pricing here.
You can also try Swift Publisher for free to judge for yourself first.
You can read our full Swift Publisher review here.
Pages is Apple’s excellent alternative to Microsoft Word for Mac and used to be part of Apple’s version of Microsoft Office, iWork.
Pages is now available as a free standalone app in macOS though and is capable of both word processing and desktop publishing.
If you’re used to Microsoft Word, it can take some time to work out where the equivalent functions are in Pages but it’s well worth the effort.
With lots of professional looking templates and layouts, you can create some really professional results using Pages.
Pages does have its drawbacks though. Working-out how to format things, insert tables and move elements around the page isn’t as easy as it should be but again, all it requires is familiarity with how Pages works.
Some users are also disappointed at recent versions of Pages which they feel aren’t as good as previous versions with some features removed or not as easy to find as before.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much support for Pages or many tutorial videos either so if you get stuck, you’ll find yourself having to Google the answer although Pages is so widely used on Mac, you’ll always find the answer somewhere.
Although the latest version of Pages can’t be compared to a professional desktop publishing solution like InDesign, you can see how they compare below.
Lucidpress promotes itself as a “brand templating platform” and is an easy to use online desktop publishing software.
Lucidpress is extremely user friendly and helps you to create extremely professional looking print and digital publications including magazines, newsletters, posters, flyers, reports, digital magazines and more.
There’s nothing to download with Lucidpress as it’s all Cloud based and the basic version is free to use although way too limited for serious publishing work.
Lucidpress allows you to easily drag and drop elements, import text from Google Docs, add tables, buttons and insert interactive media such as YouTube videos.
It’s very easy to do common tasks like change the size of your canvas, undo edits and edit headers and footers in Lucidpress.
One of the most striking things about Lucidpress is the huge range of professional looking templates ranging from posters and invitations to gift certificates and business cards.
Templates are optimized for high quality 300dpi printing although this is only available in the Professional Plan of Lucidpress.
The basic single user version of Lucidpress is completely free to use but is limited to 3 pages and 25MB of storage so the free version is not suitable for anyone needing to do serious desktop publishing.
To remove these limits and get other benefits such as print quality PDFs, document embedding and premium templates, Professional Plans cost $10 per month.
Pricing: Free/$10 per month
It’s clear that Publisher Plus is heavily inspired by Apple’s Pages but has tweaked the user interface a bit to make it easier and faster to use.
One of the common problems with Pages is that for those that are used to Word, it can feel a bit unintuitive to use with menus and tools constructed in a slightly different “Apple” way of doing things.
Publisher Plus has a more familiar Microsoft Office Windows feel to it and for someone looking to just play around with layout design, it’s a cheap and easy option.
However, there are a few disadvantages to be aware of.
For example, there are plenty of templates available -- over 170 in fact ranging from Magazines and Posters to Newsletters and Certificates -- but the quality of them isn’t quite as professional as in Pages or Swift Publisher.
There are other limitations too such as the text tool which doesn’t allow you to configure a style and there a fewer choices when it comes to drop shadows.
The pricing for Publisher Plus is a bit confusing as you can get it direct from the developer for $39.90 with a 30 day money back guarantee or $19.99 from the Mac App Store.
There’s also Publisher Plus Lite although it only allows you to edit or create a few limited pages and you have to purchase templates in-app.
iStudio Publisher is an extremely user-friendly and powerful DTP software for Mac users.
If cloud solutions like Lucidpress or professional publishing software such as InDesign are not your thing, iStudio Publisher is an excellent desktop alternative.
iStudio Publisher produces professional results and yet is very easy to get started with thanks to the well thought out video tutorials and Quick Start Guide.
Creating brochures and documents is very easy -- you can simply drag and drop images and text boxes into a page and export the final product to PDF.
The only slight downside is that you can’t import and export Microsoft Word DOC files but you can insert content from Word files via RTF, TXT, PDF, and various image formats (JPEG, TIFF, PNG, GIF, PSD, AI and EPS). You can also export to PDF and ePUB.
For those that need to send the document to professional printers, iStudio Publisher also gives you the ability to work with colors in different colorspaces such as RGB and CMYK.
This isn’t very common with consumer level DTP apps and an essential option if you’re planning to get your documents professionally produced.
If you want a value for money user-friendly desktop alternative to Publisher but don’t want to be locked into a monthly subscription, iStudio Publisher might be for you at just $17.99.
If you want to create interactive documents on your Mac, then FlippingBook might be for you.
FlippingBook is a clever online desktop publishing software for Mac that is extremely easy to use and doesn’t require you to download anything.
FlippingBook can be used for creating interactive documents, books, magazines, catalogs or brochures.
What’s clever about FlippingBook is that it can make digital documents have a vintage paper look and feel to them to give them a more original touch.
The page flip effect in particular looks really cool and feels like browsing a genuine print publication on your Mac or iOS device.
We like the way you can import PDF or HTML5 documents into FlippingBook and it automatically then coverts them to a paper feel format.
FlippingBook automatically optimizes all publications to display as well on desktop as they do on mobile devices and you can even embed them into blogs and websites.
You can add other useful elements like a table of contents, embed videos in documents and even pop-up images on pages.
All pages and publications can be branded with your own logo or background and you can choose to host your publications on your own server or with FlippingBook Cloud.
FlippingBook could be described as an interactive desktop publishing software and while it’s not a direct replacement for Publisher, it’s definitely a more interesting and creative software.
It’s a bit pricey at $40 per month for the Starter version going up to $180 per month for the Advanced version but if you’re looking to really impress clients or customers on a regular basis, it’s probably worth it.
Note that Mac users can only use the online version of FlippingBook but there is also a FlippingBook desktop client for Windows.
Pricing: Starts at $40 per month
There are basically no free alternatives to Publisher on a Mac that have comparable features and functionality, although Scribus is about the closest you’ll get.
Scribus is an open source desktop publishing application which doesn’t exactly have a polished interface or lots of features but is worth looking at if you’re on a strict budget.
Scribus has plenty of templates to choose from including for brochures, newsletters and posters.
The main toolbar across the top of Scribus provides all of the main functions and there is a sliderule along the margins to help you be exact with your designs and layouts.
As is typical with open source software however, you have to feel your way around Scirbus to get used to it. There is an extensive Scribus Wiki but it’s quite dry and there are no tutorial videos to follow.
Scribus isn’t updated very often as it relies on a small group of volunteers to keep it running so don’t expect anything in the way of new features or support if things go wrong.
Note that you also need to install Ghostscript on your Mac in order for it to work.
If you want a free DTP software though, and have time study the manual, Scribus is a basic yet free alternative to MS Publisher for Mac users.
No review of desktop publishing software on Mac would be complete without a mention of QuarkXPress.
20 years ago, QuarkXPress used to be the industry standard for Desktop Publishing on Mac many years ago but has suffered from a lack of development and competition from InDesign on Mac.
However, the latest version of QuarkXPress is a huge improvement and if you’re looking for a professional desktop publishing software without a monthly subscription, it might be for you.
QuarkXPress is probably the most expensive desktop DTP software you’ll find at $349 for the basic version but it is easily the most well-known and established Desktop Publishing Software among professional publishing houses.
QuarkXPress has attempted to recover ground from Adobe with the release of QuarkXPress 2019.
Some of the most notable features of Quark 2019 are the new color picker tool and ability to export HTML5 publications which InDesign can’t do as yet.
There are other things QuarkXPress can do that InDesign can’t too such as the ability to convert PDF and AI files for editing, vertical kerning, gradients with different opacity settings and custom optical margin alignment.
Note that you can’t open InDesign files although you can copy and paste InDesign items into QuarkXPress.
The one big selling point over Adobe InDesign is that Quark 2019 doesn’t require a subscription as it’s a $349 one off payment.
For this price, you get a perpetual license with 60-days of free support, free dual activation, a cross-platform license for Mac and PC and ongoing access to free updates.
If you’re intending to do some serious DTP work and want to produce high quality professional publications without a monthly subscription like InDesign, then QuarkXPress is the next best thing.
Pricing: Starts at $349
VivaDesigner is a powerful German based desktop publishing and typesetting software that often goes under the radar in desktop publishing.
VivaDesigner can convert and open Adobe InDesign files so that you can edit them in VivaDesigner and vice-versa.
VivaDesigner works across on both Mac and PC in a desktop client and online via a browser.
It’s a good option for those working in teams as it allows several users to work on one document but features Distributed Publishing controls to restrict privileges.
VivaDesigner is far more powerful than Microsoft Publisher with professional features such as Glyph palette, multilingual text editing and translation, style sheet visualization and optional Publishing Servers.
VivaDesigner is available in Free, Personal ($139) and Commercial ($399) editions.
The free edition is very limited in features but can be used for basic desktop publishing both on your desktop and online. You can see a full comparison between all the versions of VivaDesigner here.
Pricing: Starts at $139
Which Is The Best Mac Desktop Publishing Software?
We’re sure that by using one of the solutions featured here you can live without Microsoft Publisher on macOS.
Adobe InDesign is still easily the most powerful desktop publishing software for Mac in terms of professional standard desktop publishing.
Especially if you’re a student or educator, the limited 60% discount offer off the entire Creative Cloud suite make it a fantastic deal at the moment
The disadvantage is that DTP apps like InDesign, Lucidpress, and Flipping Book all require a monthly subscription which is an increasingly common software payment model nowadays, especially when it comes to design software of all kinds.
If you’re looking for something less powerful but sufficient for basic desktop publishing, Swift Publisher is an excellent option with no monthly subscriptions.
Microsoft Publisher Alternatives Comparison Table
For a full comparison of all the software featured here, check the table below.
Top MS Publisher Alternatives For Mac Compared
|Adobe InDesign||Swift Publisher||Pages||Lucidpress||Publisher Plus||iStudio Publisher||Flipping Book||Scribus||QuarkXPress||Viva Designer|
(60% Educational Discount Available)
|Works on iPad|
|Drag & Drop|
Is Microsoft Publisher Available In Office 365?
Publisher is not included in Office 365 for Mac users. For Windows users however, Publisher is included in Office 365 including Office 365 Home, Office 365 Personal and Office 365 University.
Can You Run Microsoft Publisher On a Mac?
You can find out exactly how to install Microsoft Publisher on a Mac here.
Can You Open Publisher Files On Mac?
There are no apps that can open MS Publisher PUB files on a Mac but there are ways of opening Publisher files on Mac by converting them to another format which you can open in the programs featured here.
But we don’t recommend it because as you’ll see in this roundup, there are some much better, slicker and more powerful Publisher replacements for Mac users.
Why Is There No Mac Version Of Publisher?
The Mac user market is obviously a lot smaller than the PC market and Microsoft doesn’t see it as financially viable to put the development, support and resources into making a Mac version of Publisher.
If you have any other problems, questions or issues with these Publisher substitutes on Mac, let us know in the comments below.